The start of a new year * is a great time to take stock and refocus …
- Review – take a look at last year’s results, what worked? Do more of it! What didn’t work? Take some time to realistically review why. Is there market demand? If that answer is yes – here’s where aforementioned “realistic” comes in – what are we doing wrong and how will we do differently? We’ve already determined the market is there – study your competition that has been successful, they’ve figured out a way, and focus on how to do it even better. Just don’t keep doing the same and expecting different results – we don’t even need to go to what they say about such. If the market has passed by or doesn’t exist, you don’t need me to say the rest.
- Track it – identify your key metrics that for most SMBs is likely half a dozen or so, document your goals and measure your performance towards achieving. It’s been proven time and again that goal clarity is key towards achieving success – measuring performance vs. goal key to maintaining focus. If I may paraphrase the line from Field of Dreams, “If you track it, it will improve”.
- Cash Flow – this could be considered a subset of “Track it” but so critical to have earned a separate breakout, “Cash is King” is not a term I coined. Having a Rolling Cash Flow Plan in place is critical to anticipating slow periods, cash requirements BEFORE it’s too late – to enable developing and sourcing contingency remedies.
- Communicate – this goes hand-in-hand with aforementioned “goal clarity”, have goals been clearly communicated to your team, to your company? Have you involved your team, welcomed their participation, minimally considered their feedback, in establishing your charted course? Involving them in the process and clearly communicating your plan are critical elements to achieving success.
- Scrutinize – there’s an adage in the planning/budgeting world referred to as zero based budgeting that’s often “suggested” as in-place but far less frequently is actually practiced. The fundamental premise is that every line item of your plan is scrutinized and justified as prudent. If it can’t be justified on merit it shouldn’t be in you budget. Here’s a micro suggestion – make sure all your suppliers know they aren’t the only game in town. If you haven’t scoured the marketplace, perhaps put out to blind bid in a while I can just about guaranty “you can do better”. If you have a supplier in place “forever” who doesn’t know it’s a competitive market, that relationship has become “cozy”.
- Reward – your standout performers with praise and compensation.
I’ve spearheaded multiple turnarounds, managed high growth – this approach works.
* Actually Q3/Q4 of the prior year is better, nonetheless, today is better than tomorrow – did you say tomorrow yesterday? Today is yesterday’s tomorrow.